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Album Review

A press release that Narnack Records sent out with Hella's Total Bugs Bunny on Wild Bass jokingly says: "Total Bugs begs the question: are these f*ckers human? Probably not. But whatever they are, people love 'em." Those comments were Narnack's humorous way of informing listeners that the instrumental work of guitarist Spencer Seim and drummer Zach Hill — collectively Hella — shouldn't be judged by mainstream standards. Hella's bizarre, oddball, highly eccentric blend of avant-garde noise rock and electronica shouldn't be judged by the same standards one would apply to No Doubt, Creed, Shakira, or Ben Folds Five; arguably, a disc like Total Bugs Bunny on Wild Bass is to rock what the experimentation of Anthony Braxton, Ornette Coleman, Henry Threadgill, and Ivo Perelman is to jazz. While those avant-garde jazz explorers are extremely creative, their work is definitely an acquired taste — and similarly, not everyone is going to comprehend what Hella does on Total Bugs. But for those who are broad-minded and adventurous, this 19-minute EP has a lot to offer. Musically, Hella's interests are far-reaching; although essentially a rock act, the band successfully incorporates elements of everything from jungle/drum'n'bass to hip-hop to jazz. Like a lot of avant-garde artists — rock, jazz, classical, or otherwise — Hella can be quite self-indulgent. But because they're as creative as they are, someone who understands what they're doing can easily live with their excesses (or perhaps even accept them as a charming part of the big picture). To put it crudely, Total Bugs isn't just musical masturbation — there's a method to the madness. And when all is said and done, Total Bugs generously rewards those who are daring enough to go along for the ride.


Formed: February, 2001 in Sacramento, CA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Indie rockers Hella consist of guitarist Spencer Seim and drummer Zach Hill. The two first got together in the spring of 2001, developing a following around the Sacramento area that won them a record deal on 5 Rue Christine Records. Their debut LP, Hold Your Horse Is, appeared in 2002, and established Hella's chaotic approach to instrumental noise rock. The duo proved prolific, issuing the LP Total Bugs Bunny on Wild Bass on Narnack in 2003, The Devil Isn't Red for 5RC in 2004, and the double album...
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Total Bugs Bunny On Wild Bass, Hella
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